Atomic Habits

While I’m still on edu-leave (for two more weeks) I noticed a couple of things that annoyed me in my daily routines and I want to do something about them. For instance, I need to take some medication in the morning (and some in the evening) which I should only take after breakfast. Since I don’t have the pillbox with me whenever I move around in the apartment and, far too often, am just too lazy for my own good I sometimes take them closer to noon than dawn.

Same for going to the gym: Should I go in the morning or in the evening? Even thinking about that stalls me sometimes so much that I just forget about it altogether.

For these and other reasons I picked up Atomic Habits by James Clear last weekend. In this book, the author devices the process your body (and yourself, obviously) deal with habits into two phases with four parts in total:

  1. Problem phases
    1. Cue
    2. Craving
  2. Solution phase
    1. Response
    2. Reward

You notice something (cue), you develop a desire to do something about it (craving), you set an action to relieve that wanting (response), and, finally, you get a reward. Based on these James provides a set of rules that should help you pick up new habits and, by inverting them, unlearning unwanted habits:

  1. Make it obvious
  2. Make it attractive
  3. Make it easy
  4. Make it satisfying

These four rules are then augmented with practical advice on how to act in order to apply them for creating new habits in your day-to-day life. For instance for rule two (“Make it attractive”) James has among a couple of others the following step:

Use temptation bundling. Pair an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

Every such step is described in detail and with good, practical examples. The author doesn’t rely exclusively on his own experience for that but there are tons of references to other people including Olympic athletes who’ve following one or multiple of these steps in order to improve themselves.

I love this book! At least for me it simply has the right mix of theory and practical advice with enough reference examples to keep me motivated. I’ve also started to apply some of these rules and actions. Historically, I’ve struggled mostly thanks to necessary actions not being the obvious choice and so I’ve now placed my pillbox at the breakfast table so that I see it during breakfast and move it to the bathroom so that I see it again in the evening right before brushing my teeth.

The book also describes something called a “habit scorecard” in which you collect your daily habits in order to get an overview of your automatic processes and also to qualify them as either positive, negative, or neutral. I think I will do that today, now that I think about it 😅

Over the years I've written quite a few reviews 🙂 You can find them at /reviews/.